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EMBO J. 1995 Apr 3;14(7):1453-67.

The sequence and binding specificity of UaY, the specific regulator of the purine utilization pathway in Aspergillus nidulans, suggest an evolutionary relationship with the PPR1 protein of Saccharomyces cerevisiae.

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Institut de Génétique et Microbiologie, URA 1354, Université Paris-Sud, Orsay, France.


The uaY gene codes for a transcriptional activator mediating the induction of a number of unlinked genes involved in purine utilization in Aspergillus nidulans. Here we present the complete genomic and cDNA nucleotide sequence of this gene. The gene contains two introns. The derived polypeptide of 1060 residues contains a typical zinc binuclear cluster domain and shows a number of similarities with the PPR1 regulatory gene of Saccharomyces cerevisiae. These similarities are most striking in the putative linker and dimerization regions following the zinc cluster. Gel-shift and DNase I footprinting experiments have been carried out for three genes subject to UaY-mediated induction. The binding sequence is 5'-TCGG-6X-CCGA, which is identical to the proposed PPR1 binding sites. Nevertheless, the identity of the base immediately 3' of the 5'-TCGG sequence clearly affects the affinity of the site. The site upstream of the uapA gene has been shown to be active in vivo. Binding to this site has been analysed by a number of interference techniques. There is an interesting chemical similarity between the co-inducer of the purine utilization pathway (uric acid) and that of the genes of the pyrimidine biosynthetic pathway (dihydroorotic acid) and we show that dihydroorotic acid can act as a poor inducer of at least one activity under UaY control. These striking similarities, together with the unique pattern of regulation of pyrimidine biosynthesis in S. cerevisiae, suggest that PPR1 evolved through recruitment into the pyrimidine biosynthetic pathway of an ancestral gene related to uaY.

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